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PCGS No: 2971


Circulation strikes: 4,232,140,523

Designer: Obverse by Victor David Brenner; reverse by Frank Gasparro

Diameter: 19 millimeters

Metal content:
Copper - 95%
Tin and Zinc - 5%

Weight: 48 grains (3.11 grams)

Edge: Plain

Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia, PA) below the date   

Images courtesy of

1,579,324 1974 One Cent pieces were struck in Aluminum, a handful going to members of Congress and staff members. The entire mintage was destroyed except for an estimated dozen examples that were never recovered from the Congressmen and their staffs.

One example resides in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, having been turned over to the museum by Charles Holstein, staff director for the House Banking Subcommittee at the time.

In early 2001, a report surfaced that an unnamed grading service had examined a 1974 Aluminum Cent, but had not authenticated or encapsulated the coin.  The coin was reportedly in the hands of the family of a deceased Capitol Hill police officer who found the piece in 1973 "on the pavement while on duty in the basement of the House Office Building" where the officer believed it had been dropped by a Congressman.  

Type I Aluminum Cent blanks are known.  One was donated to the National Numismatic Collection in the mid-1980's by David L. Ganz, who had been present during the Congressional hearings concerning the changes in the metal composition of the Cent.  Ganz also donated a Type 1 Aluminum Cent blank to the American Numismatic Association and sold a third in a 1994 auction conducted by Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.

In 1994, a former employee at a Pennsylvania steel mill sent a previously unknown, bronze-clad steel cent to Coin World.  The employee found the coin in 1974 when Mint officials brought bags of the bronze-clad steel Cents to the steel mill to be destroyed.  Reportedly, one bag broke open and not all of the coins were recovered.

Both the Aluminum and Bronze-clad Steel 1974 Cents are illegal to own.

The finest Uncirculated Red-Brown examples graded by PCGS are 2 MS-64RB's.

The finest Uncirculated Red examples graded by PCGS are 41 MS-67RD's.

Sources and/or recommended reading:
Coin World, March 5, 2001, pages 1 and 85

"The PCGS Population Report, October 2003" by The Professional Coin Grading Service